AncestorNews: Researcher Beware!
At a recent meeting of the TechnoTrees, a group of San Diego
genealogists who use personal digital assistants (PDAs),
the discussion turned to problems with errors in the federal
census or mistakes in census indexing.
Several members cited problems even finding a family member
in the 1930 census index, due primarily to misreading the
enumerator's handwriting. In some cases, the difference
between the name on the actual census and the index was
Another TechnoTree member cited several errors she'd found on
the census itself, including her parents' place of birth and
her sister's gender. On the 1910 census, my grandmother's stepmother
is recorded as being her mother. No problem since I know the truth,
but what about future generations?
If you have an account with Ancestry.com and find a census error,
you can click on "Add Comment," and note the correction. Or if a
GEDCOM at WorldConnect (worldconnect.rootsweb.com) cites
an erroneous fact from a census, you can post an electronic sticky
note with a correction. Otherwise, future researchers will need to
rely on your published family records to locate factual data.
These census problems hark back to a long-standing genealogical
problem of relying on information just because it's in print.
The next time you find something about your family, whether in the
census or other printed source, try to double check the facts.
I'd love to hear about your family's "census bloopers."
Write and tell me about them. For more on census and census indexes
visit these Web sites:
• 1930 Census Research Problems Discussion Group
• 1930 Census Search Strategies
• What To Expect from the 1930 Census
• Federal Census FAQ
• Available Census Indexes
• The AIS Census Index